Want to be happier and live longer? Then stay close to your friends! A 10-year study in Australia shows that satisfying friendships are better at predicting longevity than even close family ties - and help protect against obesity, depression and heart disease. Here are the types of relationships that are especially good for your health, courtesy of MSNBC:

  • First: A childhood friend. Someone who knows your family, and has memories and stories about your dreams, your childhood, and your growing pains that nobody else does. Sociology professor Rebecca G. Adams says childhood friends are a reminder that you’re the same person you’ve always been, and that you’re worth knowing for the long haul.
  • It’s also important to have a new friend – someone who has no preconceived ideas about you. Psychologist Pamela McLean says that as we get older, we can fall into ruts. New friends can change the way you think, change who you are, and connect you to a whole other network of people, which can be helpful if you’re looking to make a career change, or find a new pool of potential dates.
  • Another type of friend that can make you healthier and happier: A younger friend. Research shows that an essential element of a happy life is to nurture others and feel useful by passing on what you learned, like how you managed to juggle a full-time job and three kids. However, the nurturing works both ways! Ask your younger friend to teach you the ins and outs of social networking websites, or offer a fresh take on current events. Sharing will help them live longer, too!
  • One final type of friend that’s important to your health and happiness: A workout friend. Someone who’ll drag you out for a jog on days when you’d rather be a couch potato. Studies show that exercise is one of the most important ways to boost your physical and mental health and longevity. A good friend may be the glue that makes your healthy habit stick.